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on our broadcast tonight, playing defense. the president gets an earful from folks who don't want to hear what was announced today, that the recession is over. correcting the record. president carter makes a change in something he told us today about his fellow former president. is it safe to change the genetic makeup of salmon and will you know it when you see it? on thin ice, some make they have sent creatures whose home ice is melting underneath them. a big change happening right now. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. the folks who study recessions have determined this one is the
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longest since world war ii, where they might differ from the rest of us, however, is their view, their contention that the recession is now over. and that it lasted 18 months. that doesn't go overwhelm with the millions of americans wondering how their own situation will improve. it's a sentiment the president ran right into today in a town meeting, featuring a dose of humanity during this rough time. we begin with white house correspondent savannah guthrie. >> reporter: there are those measures that economists talk about, then there is the reality on the ground. today, the president got a dose of the latter. >> thank you very much. thank you, guys. >> reporter: as the economic experts today were putting an official end date on the recession, at a c nbc sponsored town hall, the president was geeting an earful from americans still reeling for it. >> i voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a
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meaningful way for the middle klatt. i'm waiting, sir. i'm waiting. i don't feel it yet. >> i really want to know is the american dream dead for me? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: the president, forced to acknowledge again, the primary economic indicator for most americans isn't budging. >> i can describe what's happening to the economy overall, but if you're out of work right now, the only thing you're going to be hearing is when do i get a job? >> reporter: they announced the recession ended in june 2009, 18 months after it started in december 2007. in the process, the economy shed 7.3 million jobs, the worst downturn since the great depression. and one hard to climb out of. >> we suffered such large job losses that it's going to take two, three years until the economy gets back to where it was in 2007. that's going to be very long and painful process. >> reporter: with many employers
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still too nervous to hire until they're sure the recovery is real, the one thing americans need most is the last thing to come back. >> there's still several trillions sitting in banks. they're not investing. >> no, the recession is not over yet. we have a long way to go. >> reporter: as the economy recovers, a lot of people who just gave up looking for work will start looking again and because the government measures unemployment by who is looking for work, we could see ton employment rate tick up again. some think it will hit double digits before this is all over. >> savannah, thanks. cnbc's john harwood nominated the town hall event. he's with us from the site in washington. john, give us a sense of the room, sense of the president. by that, i mean all this talk about him connecting or not with people. today, some of the people with you there decided they needed to be heard.
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>> reporter: exactly, brian. the president faces this remarkable squeeze play. people on wall street, people in the business community say he's hostile, say he's anti-business. yet if you look at this poll we did for the town hall today, most americans say the president's policies are helping big business and wall street and not them. so he had to assure them that he's not going to make their lives more difficult but tell the average americans like that exhausted woman whose sound bite you played a moment ago, that he's on the case and he's trying to. she just has to have more patience before the results come. >> it's more than just him. he's defending in many ways an entire party with these elections coming. >> he's defending the entire party and trying to do two things, go on the attack and make the case his policies have made life better from losing 700,000 jobs a month as was
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happening when he took office, to gaining private sector jobs now. but also create a contrast with the bush administration and republican rule before that is very critical for democrats to have someone to run against, not to make it a referendum on the president and on the performance of the obama administration. if that's what it is, they're not going to do well at all. >> john harwood in washington today. thanks for that. 43 days to go to be exact before those midterm elections. the tea party, as you may know, getting all the buzz, a lot of attention from the press and it has the established parties worried for separate reasons. also means a lot of new scrutiny for candidates like delaware republican christine o'donnell. our own kelly o'donnell reports. >> reporter: delaware's tea party star christine o'donnell dismissed the sudden flow of old tv appearances as an attraction.
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comedian bill mauer's show was taped just before halloween 11 years ago. o'connell says that was about high school. >> i hung around people who were doing these things. >> reporter: in front of voters last night, she tried to turn it into a punchline. >> there's been no witchcraft since, if there was, karl rove would be a supporter you no. >> we know more about christine o'donnell right now than we know about obama. >> reporter: today, the president said the tea party should offer answers, not just anger. >> the challenge i think for the tea party movement is to identify specifically what would you do. >> reporter: democrats focussed their fire on o'donnell's finances. >> o'donnell spends money she doesn't have. >> reporter: this year o'donnell paid the irs more than $11,000 in back taxes owed from 2005. watch dogs accused her of misusing funds from an earlier
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campaign. a former campaign aids said she spent donations on personal experiences, including rent, gas, and meals. they deny those allegations, and says they take very seriously the "sanctity of donations." analysts say this year many voters aren't as interested in candidate's background. >> i think they're paying less attention to the personal experiences, credentials, qualities, and looking more at just will this person shake things up? >> reporter: and rattling the establishment has become the campaign promise of 2010. kelly o'donnell, nbc news, washington. former president jimmy carter visited the studio today, part of a media blitz to promote his new book, this one his white house diary. he will be 86 in a few days and he has written an honest book detailing his feelings on the
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job 30 years ago. it was when i asked him about a recent photo that he said something that received some unwanted attention today. the last photo of you with your fellow former presidents, you were well off to the side on the right, and i thought to myself, there's a possible metaphor. what is it about you, you think, the way you've decided to conduct your life in post presidency? do you feel listened to? do you feel that you receive your due or do you feel in fact apart from the crowd? >> no, i feel that my role as a former president is probably superior of other presidents, and to some degree, domestic affairs. on energy conservation, on environment and things of that
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kind, we're right in the midst of the constant debate. and the carter center has decided, under my leadership, to fill vacuums in the world. when the united states won't deal with troubled areas, we go there and we meet with leaders who can bring an end to a conflict or human rights abuse. so i feel we have an advantage over many other former presidents in being involved in daily affairs that have shaped the policies of the world. >> that quote in there from president carter contending he's played a role superior to that of other presidents is the one that didn't go over very well today, raised a lot of attention and eyebrows, prompting mr. carter to put out a further statement explaining "what i meant was for 27 years, the carter center has provided me with superior opportunities to do good." back in the studio, we continued the conversation about current
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politics. as you look at your present day united states, how often do you get depressed? is the glass half empty or half full? what worries you? >> this country has become so polarized that it's almost astonishing. not only with the red and blue states, but now because of the massive influx of money into the campaigns, so there's practically no relationship anymore between democrats and republicans once they're elected to the house or senate. dramatically different from what it was when i was president. i enjoyed a bipartisan interrelationship in washington, which no longer exists. now i think president obama suffers from the most polarized situation in washington that we've ever seen, even maybe in the time of abraham lincoln and the initiation of the war between the states. >> how do you think it came to
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be that such high numbers of people believe that this american-born christian president is either foreign born or muslim or both? >> i think the number one factor is fox news, just totally distorting everything possible concerning the facts. and i think their constant hammering away at these false premises about our incumbent president has a major impact on the consciousness of america. a lot of well-meaning people, including many of those in the tea party movement, believe what is said in this constant hammering away by glenn beck and by others who have no regards for the truth. >> former president jimmy carter had a lot more to say during our conversation today about ted kennedy, ronald reagan, his speed reading course and a white house showdown over mice in the
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oval office. we've put it on our website, now we turn to the gulf of mexico where an awful episode has ended. bp this weekend said it has finally and permanently shut down the blownout oil well. the company announced today it's joining the consortium of the world's big oil companies to develop a rapid response plan for any future accidents, but the effects of this one are a long way of over. correspondent ann thompson, as you may know, has covered this story from the very start, is in new orleans tonight for us. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening. over the weekend, the 1,000 foot cement plug at the bottom of the well with stood a pressure test. with that, thad allen declared the well dead. it certainly is a significant milestone, but as you said, it is by no means the end to this crisis. five months after the explosion, there is still oil in the
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marshes of southeast louisiana. tar balls continue to wash up on some beaches. scientists are finding plumes of crude thousands of feet below the surfalse of the gulf, and now on the sea floor that they suspect comes from bp's bell. all of that is making it very difficult for this area to recover. today, some 40,000 square miles, almost 17% of the gulf of mexico, remains closed to fishing. louisiana seafood production is devastated, down 70%. and tourism industries along the gulf coast, hotels, restaurants, they also report similar declines in business. this area has a big public relations problem that neither a presidential visit or presidential endorsements nor ad campaigns have solved so far. and it is just one of many challenges facing this area in the wake of the oil spill. brian?
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>> anne thompson in new orleans for us tonight. anne, thanks as always. when other broadcast continues, should fish that's been genetically altered end up as part of your own diet? later, the meltdown that's left some magnificent creatures in a precarious position. copd makes it hard for me to breathe.
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i had fun today, grandpa. you and me both. if copd is still making it hard to breathe, ask your doctor if including advair will help improve your lung function for better breathing. get your first full prescription free and save on refills. the fda tonight is considering whether to allow genetically engineered salmon to be sold in stores for human
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consumptions. the first time such a move has been considered. even though the industry and scientists say it's safe, critics are not convinced. our report on it tonight from nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: at a fish farm in canada, scientists are turning these tiny atlantic salmon eggs into a sort of super fish, injecting them with a growth hormone from chinook salmon. the company, aqua bounty, says the science can put more salmon on dinner plates. >> in terms of the appearance, the taste, the texture, and the biology, the salmon is the same. >> reporter: but consumer health and environmental groups have dubbed the salmon franken fish. and ben and jerry's ice cream has launched a something's fishy campaign. >> today, it's the fish we're talking about. but very soon it will be a genetically engineered pig, a
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chicken. >> reporter: in d.c. today, mixed reaction. >> just common sense. i think it's not supposed to be healthy. >> would i eat genetically enhanced food? we're already doing it in processed foods. >> reporter: since no one has ever eaten genetically engineered fish before, the concern is hidden dangers, especially since so many people have violent allergic reactions to fish. fda research has determined the salmon is safe to eat. but the chief scientists today told the fda it's relying on sloppy science. >> the basic point is what little data there is there suggests that there could be an allergy problem, and allergies can be serious and life threatening. >> reporter: if the full fda gives its go ahead, the salmon town in grocery stores within two years. tom costello, nbc news, washington. and when we come back tonight, remembering the high school gym teacher who made rock 'n' roll history.
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pushed this fire over a mountain ridge into a populated area. national guard has suspended artillery practice at the base, and acknowledged tonight it was a mistake to train while red flag fire warnings were posted. big, smoky fire here in new york today as wooden pilings were set ablaze, just underneath an important railroad bridge that snarled commuter rail traffic for hours while it was checked out and declared safe eventually for train traffic. scary moment in a major league baseball game between the cubs and florida marlins. outfielder tyler colvin was on third base when a teammate's base splintered. colvin was watching the ball. you saw a broken feet of the bat impaled his chest. he's still in the hospital tonight in stable condition and expected to stay a few more days for observation. tough hit. high school gym teacher and basketball coach from jacksonville, florida has died.
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and with him goes a piece of rock 'n' roll history. he was famous at robert e. lee high school for the day he sent some young men to the principal's office for wearing their hair too long. they later named their band in his honor. they called it leonard skinard. mr. skinner was 77. we're back in a moment with how the world is changing for one of the great creatures of the arctic and how it could be sending some chilling news to the u.s. thank you for calling usa prime credit. my name is...peggy. what is problem, please? peggy? sure...well...suddenly it looks like i'm being charged a $35 annual fee. yes? tell me it's a mistake. yes? are you saying yes or are you asking yes? yes? peggy? peggy? anncr: want better customer service? switch to discover. ranked #1 in customer loyalty.
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go to finally here tonight, it's one thing to hear how our planet is changing, getting warmer they say with open water where the ice used to be. it's another thing to see it. you can see it from satellite photos or go there and see how life is changing for one of the great iconic creatures of the north. our own lee cowan made his way to point lay on alaska's north slope where the walrus are congregating. >> reporter: the midnight sun is finally setting here in the arctic.
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as the summer wanes and the winter months approach, something isn't right. >> it should have been snow on the ground. >> reporter: jim has lived here most of his life and thought he'd seen everything the arctic had to offer. until he saw this. tens of thousands of walruses resting on the beach instead of their traditional ice floes. a warning signs that the walrus' icy environment is warming up fast. >> they prefer to use the ice when they can, but when it's gone they don't have any choice but to come to shore. >> reporter: a report out this month shows it's the third lowest arctic ice level in 30 years. >> we're see an arctic in the midst of a rapid change and right there there seems to be no signs that it's stopping. >> reporter: and for the natives, that's frightening. >> scientists say there's global
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warming going on. >> reporter: do you believe them? >> yeah, i believe them. >> reporter: walruses need the ice to rest on in between feeding. much like polar bears, they can't swim forever. and on land, a risk of a stampede could kill young calves. last year, hundreds were crushed. so why here specifically, why point lay? scientists aren't sure. and just how long they will stay or if they come back next year is anybody's guess. you think the walrus will be able to adapt? >> i hope so. >> reporter: what if they can't? >> we're in a lot of trouble. >> reporter: bellwethers of a changing environment in a place where summer is lingering too long. lee cowan, nbc news. point lay, alaska. >> that's our broadcast for this monday night as we start off a new week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.
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-- captions by vitac -- bob ehrlich pretends to be for the working guy... but he's not on our side. i thought i knew bob ehrlich, but then i found out... he raised property taxes on every maryland family... and business. he increased college tuition... by 40%. 40%. and i thought i knew bob ehrlich. he was against raising the minimum wage. made $2.5 million... working for a lobbying firm. $2.5 million?

NBC Nightly News
NBC September 20, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

News/Business. The latest world and national news. New. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Washington 6, Copd 5, Advair 5, Us 5, Peggy 4, Fda 3, Christine O'donnell 3, Bob Ehrlich 3, Cialis 3, New Orleans 3, John Harwood 2, Jimmy Carter 2, Nbc 2, United States 2, Tom Costello 2, Florida 2, Omnaris 2, Mexico 2, Carter 2, Alaska 2
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